Sherdil – The Pilibhit Saga

wogma rating: Watch, but no rush (?)

quick review:

The screenplay forms the meat of Sherdil. Around its unusually sturdy but otherwise unremarkable skeleton, the flesh forms a curious animal. One of which, were I a biologist, I would like to dissect and explore every nook and cranny.

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Director: Srijit Mukherji
Running time: 135 minutes
Genres: Comedy, Politics, Satire
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I used to hate poetry. I always found it impenetrable and excessive. “Just say what you want to in plain language, why don’t you!” I’d scream at long-dead poets, throwing the tiny book across my room. But then a professor at college described poetry as emotion distilled to the purest form that it can be. Every poem, at its core, is trying to make you feel something. It is using language to effectively and viscerally remind you of a very specific feeling.

Despite how well made the movie is, the main character tip-toes dangerously close to the problematic. I am still making my mind up about what he was supposed to be—satire of the powerful, or caricature of the poor. The point, however, is that I am still thinking about the movie.

In many ways, Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga reminded me of a poem. On its surface, it looks benign or even boring. But when you see it for what it is—language manipulated to make you think and make you feel—you can’t help but smile.

The language it uses is simple, and one most moviegoers are familiar with. If you are an avid viewer of satire cinema, you will be intimately familiar with these techniques. It plays exactly like others in this genre: engaging camerawork, likable characters, and a government system that refuses to work, despite everyone’s best efforts. Relatability is the backbone of this story’s set-up, and a dynamic camera forms the rest of the skeleton.

But as always, it is the meat that entices the most. The screenplay forms the meat of Sherdil. Around its unusually sturdy but otherwise unremarkable skeleton, the flesh forms a curious animal. One of which, were I a biologist, I would like to dissect and explore every nook and cranny. Whether I like the taste of the meat, however, is a difficult question to answer.

Despite how well made the movie is, the main character tip-toes dangerously close to the problematic. I am still making my mind up about what he was supposed to be—satire of the powerful, or caricature of the poor. The point, however, is that I am still thinking about the movie. I want to study it, to see what makes it tick.

We need more movies like Sherdil, not because of the way it handles its extremely volatile subject matter, but because it tries creatively. It doesn’t want to simply expose. If it did, it would have been a documentary. Instead, it is fiction.

The writer didn’t just want to tell us about the way our country treats its poor. The writer wanted to show us an experience, to make us feel absurdity, tragedy, and frustration.

This article is by guest author Arsh Kabra. He is an English and Creative Writing student at Ashoka University. This is really enabling his vindictive attitude towards movies. Arsh Kabra also blogs at http://abu.smritiweb.com/.

10 reviewers(?) - 0 yays 4 so-so 6 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

So-So, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...Kismat kabhi kabhi saadharan aadmi ko bhi asaadharan bana deta hain," goes a man's voiceover as Srijit Mukerji introduces us to his world of 'Sherdil'. Sadly, the filmmaker's weak execution of an extraordinary concept fails to pique your interest in a similar way like how the tiger acts when it finally comes face-to-face with Gangaram. Read more at: https://www.filmibeat.com/bollywood/reviews/2022/sherdil-the-pilibhit-saga-movie-review-pankaj-tripathi-neeraj-kabi-sayani-gupta/articlecontent-pf326210-336613.html... full review

So-So, by Tatsam Mukherjee, FirstPost : ...Without necessarily the charm of a Panchayat or the straight-forward sincerity of a Sherni, Sherdil begins to feel like neither here, nor there. Not nearly as provocative to be a memorable satire, nor as dramatic to be meditation on the man vs wild conflict. The film ends up being a version of a ‘state of the country’ conversation in a party taking place in Mukherji’s living room. The self-seriousness and the nobility cannot be doubted here, but it’s also just… talk.... full review

So-So, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Sherdil - The Pilibhit is perhaps too gentle a social satire to grab you by the scruff of the neck and show you a worm's level view of a benighted world where humans are worse off than animals. It is effective nonetheless at least in parts.... full review

So-So, by Rachana Dubey, Times of India : ...All in all, Srijit Mukherji’s intent as a director seems to have been in the right place when he started penning this film. But somewhere along the way, he couldn’t keep it tight, and together, which affects the eventual result drastically.... full review

Thumbs down, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Sayani Gupta, who plays Gangaram's harried wife, doesn't find her footing. Her character, firebrand who puts her husband and the other elders in the village in their place is too poorly written. Which is the overarching problem with Sherdil: The Pilibhit Saga. It suffers from being over-stretched and under -cooked. Srijit, who also has a cameo in the film, selects a superb story but slowly drains the delicious ironies out of it.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...The line between actor and character gets blurred and satire lies in the eyes of the beholder....

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...Only someone like Pankaj Tripathi could have pulled off this role, with a sincerity which doesn’t feel practised. His Gangaram is the soul of the film, which relies far too much on its lead character. Everyone else looks as if they are playing a part. Done well, this could have been a strong satire, but it turns into a listless saga, which lifts only a little by its lovely music, scored by Shantanu Moitra. The songs, one sung by KK whom we sadly lost recently, deserved a better film.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sameer Ahire, Movie Talkies : ...Director Srijit Mukherji’s approach seemed a little loose towards the extremity of the subject. The same happened with Amit Masurkar‘s Sherni (2021) — the same man who made a classic like Newton (2017). I don’t see what Srijit Mukherji could have done with this script, so it’s not him to be blamed. The same film might have looked better 10-15 years ago when this topic was new, but now, the OTT and other films have made it difficult for the outdated topic to hold up. Sherdil could have played well with the emotions though, but it never really focuses on them while being busy with its satirical treatment. As a whole, Sherdil is a wannabe tiger film that comes with cub-sized content, and even Pankaj Tripathi’s tiger-sized performance couldn’t save it.... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, Rediff : ...The absurdities pile up and the film goes on long after the message has been delivered and underlined several times. The forest (north Bengal standing in for Uttarakhand) is beautifully shot (Tiyash Sen), which is the only commendable thing about this film. Otherwise, it is a waste of a good idea and a waste of two competent actors.... full review

Thumbs down, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...Srijit Mukherji’s screenplay finds its satirical tone too late into the movie. Sluggishly paced, poorly written and cursorily performed, Sherdil doesn’t come even close to such films as Sherni and Ajoba in examining the precarious equation between impoverished humans and endangered species.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Very little. No blood visible, though.
  • Language: No foul language.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: Would be hard to grasp for children because of the politics involved.
  • General Look and Feel: Political satire that would be better enjoyed with a nuanced understanding of ecological politics.

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Sherdil – The Pilibhit Saga - Cast, crew, links

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Running time:
135 minutes
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Comments (1)

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Raj

Dear Arsh, You have your own style of reviewing movie. It tells so much about you and your thought process. Nice review. Would surely like to watch this one.

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